Monarchy: Advantages & Disadvantages

Written by j. lang wood
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Monarchy: Advantages & Disadvantages
The monarch of a nation often presides over religious as well as political duties. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The monarchy is a system of government in which all power is concentrated in one individual, whether king or queen, and in which the power is passed down through hereditary lines. The concept of monarchy is thought to come from tribal systems, where strong leaders established themselves over other groups, either through designation by the tribes or by conquest. Though it's one of the oldest forms of government, monarchy has both advantages and disadvantages.

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History of the Monarchy

The monarchy is one of the earliest forms of government. It arises from the idea that a strong military leader or wise individual possesses the most ability to lead the community. Monarchies have a traditional connection to religious power in the culture, and often served sacramental functions as well as political ones. The "divine right of kings" during the Medieval period in Europe reflected this melding of religious power and secular power, in which the exalted position in the society was passed down from generation to generation. Some monarchies are established by military conquest, while others are elected for a period of time and then may become permanent. Primogeniture is the concept in which the eldest child is designated as the next in line for the position of king. This child may be male or female, though some countries favour male children over female children, though this is changing, according to TheDailyMail's James Chapman.

Advantages of the Monarchy System of Government

One of the primary advantages of the monarchical system is that it gives a single focus for the loyalty and identity of the population, according to AustralianCrown. The monarchy concentrates not only on interactions with foreign governments, but also the source of justice and redress of inequities among the population being governed. The monarch's effectiveness in accomplishing these tasks is often the basis for the monarch's popularity among the people. The monarchy also allows for stability and certainty in the transference of power over time.

Disadvantages of the Monarchy System of Government

Some of the disadvantages of the monarchy system is that heredity alone may not produce a strong leader for the country. Power concentrated in one location makes it difficult to know the problems and concerns of people in far-flung areas of the kingdom. Therefore, autocratic decisions may be disastrous for some people. As a result, unpopular monarchs may be overthrown by violent, disruptive internal wars. In addition, currying favour with the monarch can take precedence over good advice.

Modern Monarchies

The British monarchy is probably the most recognisable of monarchies in contemporary times, maintaining a great deal of their traditional pomp and circumstance. During the 1600s, through a progression of laws, power became concentrated into the hands of representatives of the people rather than in the hands of the king. It is now considered a "constitutional monarchy" as seen in other European nations, such as Belgium and Denmark. Other monarchies exist around the world with varying degrees of power in the hands of the monarch.

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